Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gov. Paterson Proposes Furlough Days To Curb Interim Spending

New York is in dire fiscal shape, and Gov. Paterson has put forth a proposal that has the unions up in arms because he's calling for furloughs of state workers. In the latest budget extender (to provide state funding until a permanent FY 2010-2011 budget is in place), Paterson proposes a furlough day that he believes should save the state $30 million.

Paterson is hardly the first to propose furlough days. Utah has instituted a reduced 4-day work week in response to a tight budget situation with expanded hours on the other four days, while Colorado has instituted furloughs that generally follow state or federal holidays (such that a 3-day weekend becomes a 4-day weekend for state workers).

If New York were to institute the furlough program along the lines of Colorado, and provided furlough days for major holidays (New Year's, Martin Luther King Jr., President's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas), the state could save $240 million annually without actually having to reduce the workforce, which is always a big union no-no. With union opposition, it becomes more likely that the state will have to engage in necessary layoffs, which should be done even if the furloughs are adopted. I suspect that Paterson is hoping to trade furlough days for a few layoffs, but the state can't do with half-measures.

The state budget is in too rough shape to accept or allow half measures. It needs a serious overhaul.

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